Wednesday, July 8, 2009

University students not shy about asking profs to reconsider grades

University students not shy about asking profs to reconsider grades

This article is more than a little harsh on students, given that my experience at least is that they are describing a distinct minority yet the story makes it sound like the majority.

However, I'd be interested in your reaction and thoughts. There are a couple of quotes from the article that I think DO hit home, even if there is a good bit of exaggeration:

"The point is that we are in the business of higher education, not mediocre education," Moses wrote in an e-mail while traveling in Europe. "This sounds elitist but the challenge of global competition to the U.S. way of life does not call for trying hard, it calls for performance"
"Too many students don't know why they are in college," engineering physics professor Moses wrote in his e-mail. "Too many don't know how to study. Too many have completely incorrect expectations. It is a system that is badly broken and not for a single reason. It is a system problem. The bottom line is that the U.S. future in the so-called knowledge economy is doomed with the students we are now producing as graduates. Companies locate factories in China and call centers in India not only because the workers work for less. The workers are also better qualified. If that is an exaggeration today, it will certainly become reality in a decade."
I doubt that my generation had any better idea of why we went to college than does yours. (Faculty often forget that.) Many of us had a great time socially while doing ok in classes. Some lost their way and flunked out. And a few found direction and excelled (not just in grades but in a focus and direction for their lives.) I don't think faculty can command students to be in the third category-- you have to find it for yourself. I don't think I've encountered an example of the third category begging for grades, and perhaps surprisingly I rarely get begging from those who are failing.

Take a look at the comments on the Cap Times article as well. An interesting set of perspectives.


  1. I think the comments about college being a business and that the system is badly broken are both good explanations, but I especially feel that there is a sense of entitlement that many people have to certain grades. I remember reading in the Herald towards the end of last semester about a study at UC-Irvine that said some large percentage (don't remember exactly) believed they were entitled to a B if they simply went to class. This is a huge problem, but it doesn't simply start in college- it is a problem in high school as well.

    My sister is a middle school and high school music teacher in Minnesota and she has had situations exactly like this. At the beginning of her semester, she laid out the syllabus and it said that each choir member must attend the spring concert to pass the class. It would also be worth 30% of the grade. There happened to be a track meet this same night, and the track coach arranged so that everyone could be back in time. One particular girl decided that she wanted to stay at the track meet anyway. She did so and my sister gave her an F. Her mother fought hard with my sister and the principal demanding a make up assignment (though the concert was required to pass the class). The mother took it to the superintendent and the he "strongly encouraged" my sister to allow a make-up project and allow the child to receive a C. He didn't force my sister to change it, but indirectly said that she could lose her job if she didn't change it. He was simply trying to please the mother and avoid conflict.

    I know this is a long story, but this is exactly the problem. While not all students do this, there are some who take advantage. The fact that a mother can come in and force a teacher to give their child a better grade is ridiculous. It is also just teaching the child that they can get what they want without working for it. This is not what school is about and is not what preparing students for real life is about either.

    This article was indeed a little overly harsh on students, but it speaks the truth about some, that's for sure.

    - Luke D

  2. I think every student has a right to fight for the grades in which they believe they deserve. I consider myself an extremely hard working student. Many times, I am in courses where the material does not necessarily come to me as quickly as other students. I go above and beyond the call of duty between never missing my professors office hours and showing up to every class with a bucket load of questions. I'm very proactive about my education but it bothers me when professors solely consider the numbers versus the integrity. That's when I have to fight for myself because if I won't -- nobody else will.

    I do not believe students are lazy or as the article says "don't know why [we're] in college," it's just the level of education has advanced significantly since our parents and probably the person who wrote the article was in college. In another one of my summer classes, I was reading an article about the college gap and it had an interesting quote about the advancement of education: "In many ways, a bachelor's degree has become equivalent to what a high school degree used to be: the bare minimum for competing in the economy. Now a master's degree is becoming the new bachelor's degree." Before we know it, my kids will need to get Ph.D's just to survive. It's amazing how things change over time.

    Ashley B.

  3. I agree with the idea that students overall feel that they are entitled tocertain grades for mediocre performances. I sometimes felt like going to lecture was a big step up form many students, and therefore that to be able to say that alone was a passing grade.
    This article raised interesting questions in my mind, about why I might feel such a way, and furthermore, are there consequences to this idea? Consequences like, students making their way through the course, fighting for a good grade, retainign nothing and still getting a job, although technically unqualified. The point of academic critique is to allow the student to perform well in the academic area they choose. To allowthem to finagle their way is not a wise investment for the future.
    School is tough, but that is what makes the University of Wisconsin so great, its ability to coerce the minds of young men and women into accepting the necessary mindset for an area of study, and then learning how to use it.
    Syudents get a lot of breaks, but if you dont think that college should be hard, you should try harder, in my opinion of course.

  4. I can see where some professors are coming from with this article, but at the same time it seemed like they were cracking the whip down on students. I agree that many students just do the minimum work required and then expect a good grade for their work, but at the same time there are a lot of students that work really hard for a mediocre grade, and nothing hurts your self-confidence more than working extremely hard and receiving a mediocre grade. But at the same time, welcome to college. And not just any college, but UW-Madison is a very prestigious university. Sure many students could have gone to a smaller college and perhaps have gotten better grades, but the quality of education at Madison is so much greater, and many bosses, law schools, med schools, etc understand that and try to take it into consideration. I don't think it's right for professors to shun students away from talking about a grade. Of course there are students that want their grade changed that don't deserve it, but there are also students who probably genuinly deserved a better grade but because of a "curve" or what have you they received a lesser grade. I'll admit, I've went in to talk to a professor about a grade. I wasn't going in there with the expectation that she was going to change my grade but I at least wanted an explanation so that for next time I knew what to expect. I think professors should be excited that students care so much about their education, that they're so involved. When a student wants to talk about a grade it shows they care, and that they're trying to succeed. I think the professors need to look at the situation from a student's point of view, I feel like many are a little out of touch with how it feels to be a college student at such a challenging university. Professors should be encouraging communication with students instead of intimidating them into not coming in to talk or see them.

  5. As a current UW – Madison student, I had a lot of thoughts while reading this article. First, I do not think that it is inappropriate to discuss grades with a TA/professor, but I do think that they are certain ways in which to do it. To begin, students should not go to office hours for the first time in the last week of the semester. This screams that they are simply trying to alter their grade, but really, it makes them look lazy for not having gone earlier. To ask for clarification/expectations before an assignment is due is great, and asking for clarification of a grade after the grade has been received is fine. Some students discuss grades on assignments/exams after they have been completed because they actually want to learn from their mistakes. Under no circumstances should a student beg or have their parents call on their behalf; the students here are adults, and to be treated like adults, they need to act like adults. Having a parent call to complain about their child’s grade is ridiculous.

    In my experience, I am most frustrated when a TA agrees with the students, but will not change their grade. I was in an accounting class where the students could not ask any questions on the exams. Some of the questions were worded in confusing ways and, as a result, 75% of the kids in my discussion class got an answer incorrect. Although we all had sound arguments, we had argued from the opposite point of view that was wanted. Our TA agreed that the question was confusing and unfair, yet he refused to throw out the question or award points back.

    The article says, “too many students don’t know why they are in college,” and then discusses SOAR, and how the coordinators “hop[e] that conversation begins to set the tone for what [they] hope is a different kind of a learning experience. [They] hope the learning here would include more of an understanding of material… instead of memorizing and regurgitating facts." I have a real problem with this. To say that students do not even know why they are in college is bizarre; if students really did not know, they would not pay such a price tag. I think many students do not know where they are headed when they begin college, especially with what major they choose, but that does not mean that they do not know why they are here. In fact, SOAR even encourages not knowing where students are headed. When I attended SOAR, I did not have a clue as to what I wanted to major in, but everyone reassured me that I could try out a ton of different classes and continuously change my major. While it is true that there are many classes offered, continuously changing majors is not a good idea. No wonder why so many students cannot finish their undergraduate degrees in four years.

    The discussion of a new kind of learning in college is true, well, true to a certain extent. The beginning courses that first and second year students take are large lectures where they simply regurgitate facts on scantron exams. This is not a real understanding of the material. During my first year, I took American government. I made a friend in my discussion class who was studying abroad from Chile. She had no interest in American government, did not attend lectures, did not do the readings, but did study with me. On the three scantron exams, she received an A, an F, and a B. She got lucky, but I bet she still really understood the material, right…?

    One thing that I did agree with in the article is that some students feel entitled. They were good students in high school who probably did not have to work too hard, and they figure that if they work just a bit harder in college, they will still get As. I think that this feeling of entitlement starts at a very young age; kids are awarded for simply participating or for finishing something, regardless of whether or not it was of quality. All kids are told that they are special, and with that, I will leave you to think about a quote from Andrew Bird– “[we] can't have the cream when the crop and the cream are the same.”
    -Sarah K.

  6. I think that grade entitlement is certainly a problem with many students on campus. The transition from being a straight-A high school student to entering the academic culture of college is a difficult one, and students who are used to being on top of their class are suddenly another nameless face in a 300 person lecture hall full of other students who have worked just as hard, if not harder, to be where they are today. Some people excel in college; others do not. There are always going to be those people who are so desperate for grades, for whatever reason (parents, future career, graduate school, etc.) that they will try to bargain with a professor or TA in a last-ditch effort to get that shiny A. I thought that these people were the rare exception and not the rule, but the tone of this article seems to be blaming it on the culture of our generation, and not the pernicious desires of a few unscrupulous students.

    If any change needs to be made, it has to start from the bottom-up. Students don't come to college and suddenly become grade-mongers begging professors for better grades merely based on their "participation." The end-all experience of college has always been two things: grades and degrees. If you finish all your classes and get good grades in them, you are said to have successfully completed a college education. But is this a true measure of learning? Is a student with A's really going to be more successful than a student who has B's but gained a great work ethic from striving toward those grades? If anything is really to blame, it's the structure of education itself. Not to say that I have a solution...but maybe what we're blaming a generation of students for, we should be pinning on the system as a whole.

    -Eric Maloney

  7. I have never asked my professors for a different grade. I have always felt the grade I recieved is what I deserved. All the TA's here are very focused as well. The only problem I had was when a professor lost my final exam and gave me an incomplete..then I had to bug him to find it. It was really annoying and it made me never want to take one of his poli sci classes again.

  8. I have to agree that many students do feel that they are entitled to a grade simply for showing up to class and doing little to no work. I feel that there is no justification for recieving a good grade without adequate effort. This is what sets a top notch university apart from those in the lower tier. On the other hand though, I have gone through a class in which I felt the professor had unrealistic expectations about what kind of knowledge students were coming into the course with and was not exactly willing to help if one was not catching on as quickly as possible. I feel there is a fine line between putting in work for a class in order to earn a grade and recieving a poor grade in part due to class structure. It is hard to say what the actual reason is for a student recieving a poor grade, and can be argued on either side. I will say that when you know that it is difficult to get a high grade in a given class and still achieve one, it gives more weight to the hard work it took to earn it.
    -Kris G.

  9. I think there is no reason to be shy about asking a professor about grades. I genuinely think that most professors are fair about grades, but there have been TA's that I feel were unfair about participation points which negatively affected my grade. In this case I did not go to the professor, but I wish I had.

    College prepares us for the future and although grades are not as important to get us jobs as it was to get into college or it is for people pursuing masters degrees, medical school, or law school; your GPA is still important. I think many students these days and especially when you have woken up from the easy, dream of high school, you do not expect any grade. Most of my professors these days start the first day off even proclaiming "you earn the grade you get." So good luck to people that feel entitled to a grade without putting in the hard work, especially after that kind of speech.

    Being at a school as competitive and known for excellence as ours is, professors are here to push us to be our best. So even if I feel like a Professor is asking too much out of me or grading too harshly, it's only going to make me a better student and worker in the long run. Also, if you go after a bad grade and talk to the professor if anything they are more then willing to help/ explain why they graded the way they did so that you do better in the future. Going in to ask about a grade does not signal the doom of our economy as the professor in the article is worried about, but rather it's either curiosity or genuine desire to do better, but it definitely is not to beg for a grade out of a sense of entitlement.

    Through internships and work in general you learn that sometimes when you work really hard and think you deserve something or praise, you need to work a bit harder to get it then you may have thought. That's life and it's not always easy. However, if a professor is unfairly curving a class or a TA is unfairly grading a person in discussion due to personal preferences or even bitterness that a few have, then people should fight for their grade. Fighting for your grade in instances where you truly do deserve it is part of fighting for your future.

    In these instances, it does not mean students feel entitled or are fueling the notion about graduates being underqualified if they get these grades; but rather showing initiative and ambition needed to defend your beliefs or work; which many workplaces covet as a valuable characteristic in the field.

    -Lauren C.

  10. I agree that this article made too broad of a claim about college undergrads today, but I do think that there is a very small group of students who feel as though they have a sense of entitlement. I also agreed with the article when it pointed out that some students think there is a correlation between effort and prize and that asking for grade changes are a coping mechanism for receiving lower grades when entering college because some students simply aren't well prepared to succeed at a challenging university and have different expectations of what college is really like. Getting a good grade in a class means more than just physically showing up - you need to mentally show up to class and realize that you may have to spend more time doing work than you think and have to go the extra mile. Like the second quote from professor Moses said, some students simply don't know how to study or be successful in college. I also agree with Ashley B. that you have to fight for your grade because no one else will for your if there is a discrepancy or you want to make sure you agree. I think that if your grade is on the border, then it is ok to go in to see your TA or professor and discuss it and take into consideration attendance, participation, improvement, showing up for office hours, or asking for help outside of class because, like Elle M. said, going in to see a professor or TA shows that a student is involved and cares about their grade and are truly trying hard. However, I agree with Sarah K.'s point that it is NOT ok to show up to office hours for the first time at the end of the semester. In regards to the fact that students who are failing rarely try to argue for a better grade, I think this is because they probably don't care as much or are well aware that they put a lack of effort into the class and aren't deserving of a better grade.

    -Leslie W.

  11. I think that both sides have a legitimate point of view and that both sides have room to grow. I have had classes that there is a midterm and a final and that is all that you are graded on for the whole semester. If you do not get at least a B on this midterm, it would be difficult to receive a B or higher for the semester. I think that teachers should give fair assignments that give students a chance to show their knowledge of the subject in different forms. Instead of only standardized in class tests, incorporating a paper and some sort of project assignment. This way students who are not good test takers, but are highly committed to the class can show how much effort they have been putting in. I think that students need to also put in effort where it counts. If you went to every class, clearly that is a good effort, but that should not determine your grade. Classes are constructed assuming that students will come to all classes, it is the effort outside of the class that separates the A’s from the B’s.

  12. I agree that this article made too broad of a claim about college undergrads today, but I do think that there is a very small group of students who feel as though they have a sense of entitlement. I also agreed with the article when it pointed out that some students think there is a correlation between effort and prize and that asking for grade changes are a coping mechanism for receiving lower grades when entering college because some students simply aren't well prepared to succeed at a challenging university and have different expectations of what college is really like. Getting a good grade in a class means more than just physically showing up - you need to mentally show up to class and realize that you may have to spend more time doing work than you think and have to go the extra mile. Like the second quote from professor Moses said, some students simply don't know how to study or be successful in college. I also agree with Ashley B. that you have to fight for your grade because no one else will for your if there is a discrepancy or you want to make sure you agree. I think that if your grade is on the border, then it is ok to go in to see your TA or professor and discuss it and take into consideration attendance, participation, improvement, showing up for office hours, or asking for help outside of class because, like Elle M. said, going in to see a professor or TA shows that a student is involved and cares about their grade and are truly trying hard. However, I agree with Sarah K.'s point that it is NOT ok to show up to office hours for the first time at the end of the semester. In regards to the fact that students who are failing rarely try to argue for a better grade, I think this is because they probably don't care as much or are well aware that they put a lack of effort into the class and aren't deserving of a better grade.

    -Leslie W.

  13. I have personally had an experience where I emailed a TA questioning the grade I had recieved at the end of the semester. I had kept track of all of my semester grades (2 exams, a written paper, and participation papers) and had recieved no less then a 90 on any of the sections. Yet my final grade was ultimately a B. Unless I had failed the final exam, it seemed in accurate. I emailed my TA inquiring about my final exam grade and my confusion about my final grade. Turns out, she had messed up the math, I actually had a 92, resulting in an AB in the class. That grade change is what allowed me to make Dean's List. If I had not taken the initiative to email my professor, my college achievements and gpa would have been significantly different.

    The point of the story, is that in a digitized world, there are inaccuraces. Students are not always trying to manipulate the system by begging for a higher grade, sometimes it truly is an innocent inquiry to try and figure out how to improve their academic performance for future classes.

    I agree that the article was a bit harsh. We are all students to try and future our education and get the most out of UW - Madison. Maybe a select few are just in school for the sake of getting a degree while doing the bare minimum, but in these economic times, that just seems to be a waste of time and money. We are all here to learn, and professors should think of their students questions more optimistically then jumping to harsh conclusions.

    Gena W

  14. Of course, there will always be students that abuse this idea that grades can be altered. I agree with what person spoke of above that some believe they are entitled for ridiculously poor-quality performances. As much as I stress that UW maintain its "tough" reputaton as a well-known, "good" school, I think there are circumstances for everything. Shoudl professors pass judgements so freely, I think not. I by NO MEANS thinks this happens all that often where it can be deemed a serious campus-wide issue. Although I am not sure how this line would be drawn, I also think that it is different to ask a professor to give you an AB when you recieved a BC because you finished a paper one hour before it's due, for example (and I think MOST students recognize this as their fault), and for reasons that may have been partyly the professors fault. There have been times when I thought that I deserved one step up in my grade, but I have never been in a position where I thought that it warranted a meeting with the professor...until this past semester at least. I struggled with one intro. class that is notoriously difficult for students in which I sought out help from the TA (who could not properly explain the concepts--even was teased by a fellow TA in front of me for this characteristic), went to ever discussion section, received help from an economic major student, and met with the professor mid-semester, I was simply met with a "I'm sorry, I'm not sure what to tell you." What to tell me? How about at some point it is your job as our teacher to explain concepts we are expressing concern with. As the employers of professors, I believe we have to fight for our time with professors and should be rewarded for seeking out further explanations, afterall, someday, we will be replacing them in their positions. When a professor does not even try to help a student, I think it is completely fair to ask to speak to the teacher and reevaluate their grade. Also, even if that is not granted, I don't think it is wrong to ask for an explanation of a grade given, so long as it is not an excuse like "I only missed that one 12 page paper" or something of the like. Bottom line, just as someone said earlier, if we don't fight for ourselves, who will?

    To me, as long as this does not reach obscene levels of reevaluations of grades, I think that some of the time it may even show initiative. I have had quite a few jobs thus far in my life, some for many years, a few for less, but what I have noticed is that your ability to learn and show passion for your job goes much further than the ability. Of course, no econ major should go to the hospital and stand in for a nurse, but to some extent, initiative to do the job well and quickly learn can compensate for lower-levels of performance in singular content. We are not going to be taking MC tests in the real world, but if we have underlying knowledge of concepts and the ability and passion to FIND the answer, that will get someone further than just knowing it.

    Circling back around, this is circumstantial. Sometimes there is a place. Sometimes when it involves a class you "don't really need," it may have more of a place than others. Should just because you don't major in it and do poorly on everything/don't put in the work time mean you should do just as well as someone in the major who worked very hard, no. But what if it is more of a pass/fail thing where being on the verge of passing can be influenced by whether you proved to have put in initiative to work hard and the fact that it may not be your field of study be reason to look at a grade to evaluate whether it should be moved from an F to a D? I would like to know more opinions about this topic for certain!

  15. This is a very interesting article, and something that I think many have had an experience with. I don't think that you can simply lump people into 3 classes of those that fail out, those that find direction and those that do ok and have a social life, because the reality is far more complex. I know many quite brilliant students who have great social lives, and are also very skilled academically and have "direction," in their lives. Obviously as it is stated in the article, when the course expectations are laid out before hand, and a student simply fails to meet them, they probably don't deserve the higher grade, but sometimes there are situations where professors need to at least hear the students out and if not adjust their grade, then explain to them why they would not do so. I have actually experienced both sides of the coin, one situation, in which a TA was willing to round up my grade because i was hundreths of a point away from an A and they felt that the work I did in class should allow me to receive an A and not have to take the optional final exam. This type of system works fine, but in a situation in which face time with the professor is limited it should be clear that the professor can't be expected to make such judgment calls, because they simply don't observe your work ethic on a daily basis. My other experience in which I missed an A on what boiled down to one point on a quiz from discussion section, I think you see the system fail. There were many reasons why this grade if it didn't deserve to be changed, at the very least deserved to be discussed. For instance the quiz previously mentioned was not intended to be a part of our grade as laid out from the syllabus at the beginning of class, but only came into existence, when the majority of the class failed the first quiz offered (one which I aced). Secondly, a few questions on the quiz were written on the board aside from the actual paper itself and I rather foolishly missed these questions altogether and handed in the quiz thinking I had completed it. Should that foolish error really make the difference in judging my entire body of work for that class? My obviously biased, (but I believe reasonable) opinion is absolutely not.

    Also speaking to the issue of students finding direction, how encouraging is it to a student who doesn't yet know what he/she wants to do when they are shortchanged on a grade. They may become alienated from similiar coursework and end up on a path that leads them astray from a career for which they are ideally suited. For a professor to completely ignore a student, the very reason for which they are employed, and not even give them the courtesy of discussion is outrageous. I understand that professors don't want to be bogged down with students coming in and complaining, and I understand that they have other important work to attend to, but this is just another part of the job and they need to deal with it.

    If need be, why not create a policy by which a complainant would need first to get their "case" reviewed and signed by several TA's to see if their is any plausability in their contentions and if they should be heard (kind of like a pre-liminary hearing) so as to reduce the amount of work that needs to actually be done by the professor.

    Just a thought.

  16. Educating college students is tough because you have a strange dichotomy going on where you want them to succeed in school but you also want them to be successful in the workplace. Also, in a large research university like University of Wisconsin-Madison it is tough to adhere to every student's learning style. But, I think our university does a great job in making college similar to the "real world" (whatever that means).

    Here at UW none of the information is too much or too far out there to grasp. The only thing is you have to put in the work to be successful. You have to prioritize your life, and spend your time accordingly. All of which are skills that translate flawlessly into the "real world".

    In high school there was no work needed to obtain an A, I skated by and that was perfectly acceptable. Upon describing college everyone told me, "college is the best 4 years of your life man" or "you are going to Madison? Your going to get hammered on a nightly basis!". While the latter is definitely false, the former is true but in a different way that I expected. I went from being a kid who coasted his way through high school, to actually having to put in tough long hours in the library to obtain the grades I desired. This entire experience is making me a better person overall. I hope that everyone else takes college as seriously as it needs to be taken because if you do it will pay you great dividends.

    Jake V

  17. This article really got me worked up when I read it. I think it is horrible that students feel they are entitled to receive a good grade. If you do the work, talk with professors, do the readings, go over practice exams, stay in on a Saturday at College Library rather than “Wando’s” Library, you will receive a decent grade. What those students who go into their professor telling him that they are “trying hard” and should receive a grade don’t realize is that EVERYONE is trying hard. Welcome to college ladies and gentlemen – it’s preparing us for the real world. You wont always get that job that you lost yesterday because you’re “trying hard.” Sometimes, life isn’t fair. As was mentioned on the blog and in the article, kids don’t realize that this isn’t high school anymore. You no longer have that personal, buddy-buddy relationship you did with your teachers back at Easy A Senior High. Suck it up, deal with it. A story to end this thought: I earned a F and a D on the two first exams of the year in a class I took this past semester. I studied my butt off, received an A on the third exam and did well on the final, achieving an AB in the class. I walked into the final, knowing it was going to be tough but said to myself, “You’ve done your best, there’s nothing left to do.” I know people will look at that and say “get over yourself,” but honestly, you can’t do anymore. This is the University of Wisconsin-Madison; hold your head high, don’t give up and take the class again. I know it hurts when each class costs as much as they do (I do agree with the fact that many students may feel like they’re paying all this money for nothing sometimes) but in the long run, college will be the wisest investment you will ever make, no matter what the cost may be. A quick side note: what is outrageous is some of these unfair grading scales. That I do not agree with – it shouldn’t be one student’s performance that determines yours. That’s when one has to drop the class ASAP and hope for a different professor down the road.

    What I think may be the bigger issue is that our society is moving towards a form of entitlement. I think Monica Theis was right when she said that it is a “reflection of the society as a whole” rather than just young adults. Some of the Obama administrations policies make people feel like they are entitled for things like health care, or car companies feel like they are entitled to billions of dollars worth of bailouts. I do not want to get into a debate about whether all Americans should have health care or whether we should save Detroit and its employees – all I am trying to point out is that we are moving towards people feeling like they should receive certain things just because. There is a genuine lost sense of hard work for some things. People have no incentive to get a good job with benefits, or run a reputable business; and it is incentive that has driven this country for more than two centuries. Being from northern Wisconsin, I see this first hand on many of the Native American Indian reservations. Tribal members are given money (enough to live on, especially when one graduates from high school) and then choose to not get jobs or contribute very positively to their tribe. Crime and alcohol abuse is high in some of these areas as a result. I am certainly not saying this is the case for all reservations or all Native Americans, but it is there for some. Incentive, not entitlement is needed in every sovereign nation, workplace, and school to push people to be the best they can be. Can people receive help from the government with some items like health care or unemployment? Absolutely. But if you are able to achieve more and aren’t doing so, there’s something wrong with that person and that society.

  18. In conclusion...

    The benefits without incentives idea seems to be penetrating American society faster than ever. My guess is that seeing it in politics, the work world, and even colleges across the U.S. will not be the end of it. Sometimes it makes me wonder why I’m even attending college and working as hard as I can to be the best I can be and live a successful life, when it may just be given to me eventually. That, I believe, will lead to the U.S. not being as productive or successful as it has been in the past.

  19. I think it’s interesting to read everyone’s comments about this article and find that they give Palin some “credit” for her work in Alaska. The Vanity Fair article that most people read prior to this really bashed Palin and drew a negative light on her. I think that Palin really does bring a “different message and different leadership” to the party. She is not that rich, white, GOP CEO that people picture. The hockey mom image truly brings her down to earth at a time when some of our highest elected officials seem more like glorified Soviet leaders than leaders elected by the people and for the people. Some of the facts in this article are amazing: taking out Murkowski in 2002, and Renkes’ in 2004 sounded like huge deals. Party loyalty didn’t stop her – she was determined and on a mission to clean up Alaska. For that, I give her a lot of credit and a chance in the future as a federal official; I would love to see corruption in Washington decline, and from the sounds of it, Sarah is the woman to get the job done. I truly think that Palin has seen what she has the capability to do at the national level and wants to accomplish those goals as quickly as possible. While it was unorthodox how she left the position of governor, I give her credit for seemingly following her goals and dreams. From what I saw at the Conservative Political Action Conference in D.C. this past February, Palin certainly has a great amount of support and could possibly shake up some national election, especially with some of the relatively unknown determination and political skill that was demonstrated to one by reading this article. While I am not sure if the White House is the place for her, I am confident that she will have an effect somehow at the federal level. On a final note, I also think it was great, as Professor Franklin alluded to, that we have this great local news source for the rest of America to learn about the significant political events in Alaska and the more accurate story behind Sarah Palin, rather than the bias that protruded from the Vanity Fair article. It will be interesting to see just how much she intends to shake up the national political scene.

  20. Currently I am taking an educational psychology class. This past week we were assigned an article titled, "Why Smart People Dont Know How to Learn". The author looked at different professionals in various corporations for evidence that his statement was true. What he did indeed find was that those high-powered, well-educated, highly-motivated individuals do not know how to learn. They get defensive and place the blame on others when their managers or clients use constructive criticism with them. The reasoning for this behavior is that these people never experienced failure. They floated through high school and college-received the best grades-and are now in power-holding positions.
    This is a really long example that shows people (and college students) need that failure in their lives to learn how to learn. With such failure and work ethic, they will make better professionals and learners. College students should not take the easy route during their schooling. If they received a bad grade, its probably for a reason. Learn from that experience and better yourself for the future.
    Mallory S

  21. I took Professor Thoma's Zoo 101 course (not a smart decision for someone just looking to get his science credits out of the way), and ended up getting my worst grade here at Madison. When I checked my score on the final exam I figured out that I was ONE wrong answer away from moving up a grade. I stewed about it for a while, but I never seriously considered asking the Professor to change it because the guidelines were clearly spelled out in the beginning of the course. She even allows for students to drop their lowest exam score, so it's not like if you have a bad test you're completely out of luck.

    I think for classes such as this, where it's purely a quantitative grading system, there should really be no room for arguement. The grading system is what it is. University is the real world, and students shouldn't expect to get a mulligan if they don't get the results they're looking for. Success is earned, it is not a right. Most of the people that I know who have argued about grades are NOT the ones that put in the time and energy studying to earn the good grade in the first place. I have no trouble with unsympathetic professors who refuse to change grades because by giving in to one student it opens the door for a litany of others to argue their case too.

    -Paul L.


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